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Tragic school death does bring community together

On behalf of the parent community at Palisades Elementary School, I want to give a very heartfelt thank you to the many individuals and businesses who stepped forward to help us in the aftermath of the tragic death of Austin Sergeev.

Following the fluke accident, an incredible number of people immediately contacted the school and Palisades Adult Leadership members to ask 'how can I help Austin's family?' People from throughout the community have offered sincere condolences and meaningful support for Austin's family as well as for the staff and families at Palisades.

One of the most remarkable things that happened in the midst of great sadness was the number of Lake Oswego community members who helped provide food and flowers for Austin's funeral service reception. Word had gotten out that a portion of the catering planned for the reception had fallen through last minute. Within a few hours of that information being shared, parents from literally every school in the district began delivering food for Austin's funeral reception. A countless number of local businesses as well as school board members also made generous donations of food and flowers. The result was that on a day of overwhelming sadness and grief, there was some small amount of comfort that we live in a place filled with truly compassionate and caring community members.

I want to thank our principal Carol Whitten, who despite her own sadness, has remained a calm strength for the staff, the children and the parents at Palisades. From the very moment of the accident, she has shown true leadership in how she has guided our school through this sad event. The teachers and staff at Palisades are not only excellent at their profession, but have proven to be the finest of human beings with a true heart for the children who are in their care each day. As a parent, I really appreciate the concern that has been shown for each child's needs following this event, especially knowing that the teachers and staff at Palisades are still dealing with their own grief over Austin's death.

I also want to thank the Lake Oswego School District. I commend the competent and compassionate professionalism of Dr. Bill Korach, Dr. Jonnie Shobaki, Nancy Duin, Steve Sherrell, all the school psychologists and counselors, as well as the many other individuals who provided support from the district. Their presence at Palisades was not merely a reaction to events, but rather a proactive effort to provide immediate support and care to the staff and families at Palisades. The district has also shown great concern for Austin's family as evidenced by the remarks of Dr. Korach at Austin's service.

Finally I want to thank the countless number of Palisades parents who have helped in a variety of ways since the accident. Thank you for caring for Austin's family, for bringing food in for our staff, for stepping in to help make arrangements for Austin's funeral reception and for showing concern for one another's children and for each other. In the coming months we will begin planning for a lasting memorial for Austin at Palisades.

We are blessed to live in a community where people strive to help one another in good times and in difficult times. We have seen the very best of this community during this sad time. Thank you again to everyone who has helped.

Audrey Monroe, Lake Oswego, is the president of the Palisades Adult Leadership.